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How-To: Distressing cabinets with faux finish


Web Content 2009

By Heather Berry

Creating an antique faux finish on black kitchen cabinets makes a dramatic and elegant statement. The look lends itself to an older home, or for a bland decor needing a little boost. Adding a antiqued finish may seem overwhelming, but the project runs smoothly given the right advance study and steps.


Consider all the elements before taking the plunge with black cabinets. Antique faux paint finishes, when done correctly, require an intensive time investment. Plan out your kitchen remodel so you know ahead of time the color of the walls, appliances and counter tops and how black will fit into the picture.

Giving a black faux antique finish to kitchen cabinets, surprisingly, suits a variety of interior decorating styles. Cottage styles, traditional decor and even modern homes gain some drama with black kitchen cabinets. Consider contrasting the black cabinets with a cottage yellow on the walls or a soft, creamy color for extra affect. Antiqued black cabinets, when combined with stark white walls, stainless steel appliances and black granite counter tops, give off a sleek, modern look.

Creating an antiqued faux finish on melamine requires some experience and skill because of the smooth surface. Solid wood cabinets make the best faux finish base for a beginner. Consider purchasing inexpensive birth cabinets for kitchens without wood cabinetry. The end result will look just as elegant.

Thoroughly wash the cabinets with soap and water before beginning the painting process. Don’t, however, saturate the wood with water. Use a damp rag with a gentle dish soap and allow the cabinetry to dry completely before moving on.


Remove the cabinet doors and find a well-ventilated work place with a large flat surface. Lay the doors flat with the fronts facing upwards. Protect the area, if necessary, with old newspaper or drop cloths.

Place painter’s tape along the edges of the cabinetry still attached to the walls of the kitchen. Protect any walls and the cabinet’s attached hinges with the tape. Sand the cabinet doors and bases (previously washed and dried) with a medium grade sandpaper. When the cabinets have a heavy varnish, use a power sander, otherwise the paint won’t bond as easily.

Wipe the cabinets down with a damp rag to wash off any dust left from sanding. Make sure to clean any corners and crevices.

Paint a wood primer onto the cabinet doors and base cabinetry. Use an oil-based primer because this will protect the surface from the moisture and grease found in a kitchen. Sand the cabinets lightly after the primer dries. If the wood soaks up the primer quickly, consider adding another coat or two.

Apply a gold or white oil-based paint to the cabinetry. Adding a wood stain before the primer is another option. The color of this base depends upon the finished look you desire. Remember the top layer of black paint is sanded in random areas for the antiquing, exposing the bottom layers.

Add one coat of the gold, white or stain to the cabinetry. Apply an oil-based black paint to the surface of the cabinetry once the previous layer has dried. Allow this black layer to dry completely.

Use a medium-grade sand paper and sand the cabinet’s surface in random areas. Consider how cabinetry would age normally. The areas where years of hands opened the cabinet doors would show wear. Sand these areas well.

Wash the dust from the cabinetry with a damp cloth. Apply several coats of polyurethane to the protect the surface.